|Image via SoldierSystems.|
Clockwise from top left: Arid (desert), Tropic (jungle),
Black (urban) and Alpine (snow)
We are fortunate that we have gobs and gobs of patterns and colors to choose from these days, versus the old days where it was UCP (barf) or Multicam. These patterns join the myriad of stuff that's recently hit the market, namely the Kryptek, A-TACS, Pencott families, in addition to all of the solids, hunting, legacy and foreign patterns out there. The new Multicam stuff adds one more choice to drop down list, but I don't see these new patterns offering any kind of superior performance to the many choices already out there.
Here's my take on a pattern-by-pattern basis:
Arid: A bit browner/less green than traditional Multicam. In the very dry parts of the Southwest, this could perform marginally better than regular ol' Multicam, but certainly not enough to make a compelling case to switch over your patterns. I don't see this performing any better than the other current-gen stuff, or most legacy desert stuff for that matter.
Tropic: In the Southeastern U.S. and some parts of the North East, this greener version could work okay, though the colors are a bit off for woodlands - the dark color is more of a grey/green than a brown, for example. Pencott Greenzone has the colors about perfect, if you ask me.
Alpine: Unless you live in polar bear country, this is a specialty pattern; at most, you'd have a set of over whites. Better than a solid white jumpsuit, but nothing to differentiate it from the other 'snow' patterns out there. The white and grey shades are similar to what you'd find with Kryptek Yeti; Pencott Snowdrift mixes in some dead-brown, which helps to blend in more with natural surroundings.
Black: This is a fairly useless pattern - meant to stand out and provide an imposing presence for SWAT teams and such. We aren't on SWAT teams, so not a whole lot of use here. If you want a black color because it black is cool, Kryptek Typhon looks slicker (IMO). If you want an urban camo, you want more greys and (maybe) browns...if you just want to blend in, wear normal clothes. Why our police departments and other LEOs feel the need to have an imposing, Darth Vader-Esque appearance is another conversation entirely.
The chart below (also from Soldier Systems), shows how they think jack-of-all-trades nature of traditional Multicam compares with the new stuff.
Overall, the the environmental patterns seem fairly middle-of-the road. From a responsible armed citizen, prepper, survivalist, standpoint, there's not a whole lot to get excited about here. Neither Arid or Tropic look to be more effective than current environment-specifc patterns available.
These patterns will, I'm pretty sure, pair nicely with traditional Multicam stuff - if you've got a lot of Multicam stuff, but need to better match a desert or woodlands environment AND look good on the range with complimenting patterns from the same family, there might be something here for you.
There's also the fact that the Army is (supposedly) transitioning to this stuff. Using the same patterns as the Army has good and bad to it. Good: There will almost certainly be gobs of gear in these patterns available within the next three or four months and onwards, where other patterns like Kryptek, A-TACS and Pencott will likely remain (comparative) specialty items. (Potential) Bad: You look like a U.S. soldier.